Developed By: Mojang Studios , Double Eleven
Published By: Xbox Game Studios
Platforms: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, Windows
Reviewed On: PS4PRO
A Brief Intro To Dungeon Crawlers
Dungeon crawlers have seen their fair share of renditions throughout the years and how they’ve evolved to suit the current state of players and demand. From as early as Diablo, fans of the genre have always favoured on how such a game develops itself on its own and how it challenges the players to a proper hack n’ slash and loot scenario.
Minecraft Dungeons is no stranger to this genre of games. For many players, an aged, familiar yet never tiring game is present here, with similar blocky-3D rendition surroundings and character model. The game takes the loved genre and makes it their own in this release, where players can be found grinding dungeons, reaping its rewards in the form of items and relics, all in the name of reaching a perpetual goal of loot richness.
Minecraft Dungeons isn’t so simple as it looks. But it does prove one thing – it’s pretty casual to play. Newcomers to this genre will have an easy time understanding the fundamentals and soon will be stuck in the loop of this addictive grinding and achievement hunting of sorts. As it is a Minecraft game at its core, returning players will be familiar with some of the touches this game brings. Weapon icons, player models are all borrowed from the base game, albeit some changes to suit the gameplay.
Humble Beginnings Of Its Story
Story-wise, Tis’ but a simple one. An evil overlord is wreaking havoc, we are to stop him. Pretty much that’s all. Story mode won’t take you long, roughly a 5-hour campaign or so. What is the key to the replay-ability of this game is the loot system, which we’ll get into a little later.
You start off by creating your character, choosing from a set of preset characters. From there, you start off your journey of collecting items that can enhance your fighting skills and looks, as the character creation doesn’t quite cut it without a variety of choices and self-customization. Instead of having character classes, what your character can do depends on the type of equipment you currently have. If you prefer a ranged based attacker, maybe go for Ranger armour and a bow that maximises or even has elemental values on its arrows. Pick your poison Players! A hammer with a chain lightning ability? A sword that sets enemies on fire? How about a glaive that stuns the enemies and creates poisonous gas clouds? Get creative!
As players discover items in the tutorial, they are then introduced to their inventory. 3 slots for armour and weapons, 3 slots for artifacts. 1 melee weapon slot, 1 armour slot and 1 ranged weapon slots are the only armament slots players will have throughout the game, as these items can widely vary on buffs, skills and usage. As for the artifacts, players can have 3 active artifacts at the same time. Playstyle can vary widely when using different artifacts with different effects together with weapons that exhibit different types of buffs. Different weapons have different attack styles. For instance, an axe can have a cleaving effect on its combo, a glaive has better reach when swinging naturally, a hammer can smash the ground and throw enemies up in the air while dealing AOE damage. On top of their attack styles, weapons have level scales to them, giving them more damage and ability slots.
Levelling in this game is also progressive and speedy as you might expect from a grinder. With level-ups, you gain an enhancement point to go with. These enhancement points can be tokenized into your weapons and armour, to increase the potency of your current loadout. Of course, as you progress in the game, you’ll come across many better-levelled weapons with more choices of buffs. Thankfully, you can salvage your older gear and gain back the enhancement points to upgrade your newly acquired gear. You’ll find yourself doing this often, as new gear is easy to come across in the game. Well sometimes not necessarily stronger than your current gear, they may have better attributes in some other ways that you may prefer in your fighting style.
As players progress along the various maps/dungeons available in the game, players will come across the occasional drops after defeating an enemy or breaking open crates/vases/chests ranging from either temporary powers ups, refills for your ranged weapon and also food. Bread, apples and pork can help with regenerating your health bar to some degree with hitpoints healing over time, which can turn the tides when facing several enemies. After players are done wolfing down on some tasty food, power-ups also do appear at times via the same means. From potions that make you run fast, to potions that give you a damage boost and some that make you go invisible. These potions can be the make or break of a situation when needed. Kinda wished there would be more potions with even more effects that can boost gameplay and enhance character progression with more of a kick.
Now let’s talk about the Boss battles each dungeon holds. The Bosses are unique to their environment and very much show off these environmental adaptations through their attacks. Well, I’m not one to whine, but if there was ever a time where I felt like squeezing the life out of my controller, is when I fight some of these bosses. The bosses have their pattern of attacks, some of which can be very tricky to time and leaves you vulnerable to massive amounts of damage. Some other bosses spawn their own minions around the map, causing the player to run around frantically as they get chased and end up getting shot down by the boss itself. Truly is a test when you know your only one step away from completing the level.
As you dive deeper into the dungeons, you may come across some crypts that are hidden from plain sight. Players are able to enter these crypts and take on some enemies down there. As you explore these crypts, the player can find maps to hidden parts of the dungeons that can be played after the completion of the current level. Once unlocked, these secret missions could be long, semi-randomised dungeons, or they could be shorter levels with the chance to find some decent gear.
Loot. Almost every dungeon crawler is known to have this system in their levels. Without the ever-expanding levels of loot you are able to find in-game, who knows what weapon you are able to find and use to your own advantage. Dungeon crawlers such as this game thrive on proving loot to players who are deemed worthy of taking down a challenge. The loot system is pretty straight forward here – aim higher levels in the dungeons to acquire better loot. Simple ain’t it? Well not so fast. Don’t go in swords ablaze without consulting the difficulty level meter. Each dungeon provides a specific set of loot players can collect, and each tier of difficulty players climb, the better the loot gets. As players progress and rise up their levels, their chances of taking on higher difficulties become better as they are more well equipped. With better loot comes better protection/damage, better buffs and extra buff slots. Combining these buffs and the use of the players artifact is key for efficient combat.
Once the story completes, players unlock higher tiers of difficulty beyond the difficulty slider for each dungeon, with the first tier being Adventurer, then the hardest tier which is the Apocalypse tier. Naturally, enemies are much tougher as you climb up the tier tree. Thankfully the loot also gets even more awesome. Players will be pushed to their limits when facing off enemies in higher tiers. Oh, you think the Sorcerer with the barrier creation skill is annoying? you haven’t nothing yet!
What I Liked
- Simplistic gameplay
- Addictive looting grind
- Couch co-op and online capability
What I Wished Was Better
- Very short story mode
- Lacklustre character choice/creation
- A never-ending late-game grind
An Open Book Conclusion
All in all, Minecraft Dungeons passes the family-oriented vibe to players that seek to enjoy this while couch gaming with friends and family. To many other dungeon crawlers, they can be a bit much when it comes to the level of detail. Take this game as a “baby level” Diablo. You gotta start crawling first before running. And oh boy do you run in Diablo.
To sum up the experience of Minecraft Dungeons, it’s almost like a fighter builder, as to how the original Minecraft is a world builder. How you be creative in this game solely depends on how you gear your character up, how you approach the dungeons and at which level you enjoy your gameplay. From something that can be enjoyed by adults and kids alike, to an almost serious dungeon crawler for the more adventurous grinder. The game does have a lot to offer when it comes to replayability, just depends on how you see it. With future DLC’s coming, there’s definitely room to expand and grow beyond the base attraction of this game. Who knows, Mojang Studios might add in more aspects of a dungeon crawler to this game, or better yet, cross join this game and the original? Too ambitious I might say. But not impossible nonetheless.